A/N: Are you proud of me? I have officially reached double figures with this fic, after about two years of writing it, and I for one am insanely proud of myself. To mark the occasion, I decided to buck the trend of naming chapters after Avenged Sevenfold songs just this once, and decided to name this one after a different band's song, just for the sake of appropriateness. While they sound quite similar to Avenged Sevenfold in style, their music actually reminds me of the Scottish Highlands (but that's down to association, more than anything, having spent the best part of a week listening to one of their albums on repeat while on Alba's soil looking at the magical mist and graffiti-ing in public bathrooms (or just one, anyways)). Do note, if you guess the name of the band correctly and write it in your review, you'll get a prize.
Originally, this fic was going just have the first section as a special flash-back chapter (because I really can't see that amount of exposition coming out in a better way), but when I realised I could move the plot a little more forward, you ended up with a longer chapter. The first draft ended up being a 20-page long document, but it's been nicely edited and what you don't get here, you will get in the sister story, which is to be given the same name as this chapter.
That's everything you need to know now, so please enjoy a new chapter of AoSI: R!
Knives and Pens
Name: Light Yagami
Age: 17 years
Date: September 9th 2006
Dr Cameron has kindly asked me to answer her questions today. She has asked me to tell her the truth, for my benefit as well as the team's, and I was loathed to argue with her. Currently, I am in my private room at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, being treated by Dr House, M.D. and his team of diagnosticians, along with Dr Beyondormason Morning, O.D. (who must be here with DR Cameron and I because he is still resentful for yesterday's incident with the bleach. For months now, the better part of a year, I have been labelled as strange, unstable, dangerous, even downright crazy.
I wasn't always like this, and yet I always was.
Dr Cameron has asked me to write it all down, to tell her and Dr House what happened in that year before the 'April Incident' (as my father had come to call it), to tell them why it is that I am here and not studying in Japan to get into University, where I should be by next April. She has also asked that I start wherever I feel is best, so I'm going to oblige and start before that year, at the very beginning, from when I was a young child aged six.
From this age, from even before, I was constantly learning. Before I went to school, I could already do a number of things my peers couldn't. I could read, write, and – to some degree – act. I was always acting, having already learnt from my parents' praises how to be the perfect son they had always seen me as. From the moment I understood the concept of 'perfect' I was trying to match it, trying to outdo it. You could suggest that it was my parents' fault for pushing me in that direction, for coming to always expecting that of me, but it was actually mine: Their positive reinforcement had merely shown me what acceptance I could expect, and it was my choice alone that I acted on it. The idea that parents loved their children unconditionally never occurred to me, not until I visited the homes of my classmates and could observe this phenomenon for myself. By then, though, it was just a simple fact that I could offer my parents something that my peers couldn't offer theirs, and I did nothing to change.
By the time I was six years old, I knew what social acceptance was, and even how to achieve it, although I wasn't as practiced at the art as I was later. Even then I had the idea that, to curry favour, you had to offer what the other party expect, perhaps more on occasion. I don't mean to say that I was a generous doormat, rather, I acted in a manner desirable to any social group I found myself in, with the trade-off that they became doormats for me. I always made an effort to come across in a manner that they could deal with, doing it to the point that it became almost no effort at all, especially since my first day at Elementary School had gone so badly: Having spent most of my time before in the company of adults and my little sister (who then was only three years old), I'd misjudged to façade I'd required, and while the teacher was pleased with my willingness to learn, if a little alarmed by my seriousness, my classmates were even more alarmed, staring at me when it was apparent I was the odd-man-out. Most merely wondered what was wrong with me, while relatively few actually voiced the opinion. By the next day, I'd fixed my façade, smiling for them even when it was a bother, and I was accepted quickly. They soon forgot about the first day.
I'd always possessed that need to be perfect (I still have it now), a drive to do well both inside and outside of study and education. For me, acting for the ease of others and against my baser impulses, manipulating them (and I'm sure that's what you would call it) is as natural to you as treating your patients, or even breathing. I could never admit to hating anyone for fear of causing uncharacteristic offense, but I could use subtlety to push them away gently, even when it required more effort than it was worth. It was just performing the right role at the right time and for the right people, being a certain way. Once I mastered it, it was simply like, you could say, putting on a mask. I put one on and I acted according to its design and the way it was intended to be played; I put on another, and I was instantly reacting to the different design, playing a different role entirely. Each emotion I displayed, each person I was perceived to be, be it Light the student or Light the friend, were never me and never part of me at all. I was fully detached from it.
As for my real face, the one behind each and every mask, no one else ever saw it then, not before the April Incident. Before then, I don't think it ever saw the light of day. I've never worn the face I was born with, and you could say it became blank – just a wall or canvas for each mask to be hung upon. The role of playing myself, I never did that. I already knew from my own suspected preferences and that I had to act at all to please that playing myself would only cause trouble. To do so would just cause alarm in and of itself, since it opposes the image that so many people hold of me, since it's so monstrous and unfit to be seen by anyone, and I'm far too old to change it now (at least, not without trouble).
While I was (and still am) very much the sociopath I suspect I am, this wasn't quite the biggest problem for me.
All this socio-analysis, all this manipulation couldn't have been possible had I not been of above average intelligence. Indeed, it sounds arrogant to say it, I know, but I don't believe it is arrogant considering I'm stating a simple fact. My teacher's considered it a blessing to have me in their class, their school; they were glad for someone who could actively raise the school's grade point average. My work kept me popular with the teachers and my act kept me popular with the students. Everything I did earned me A grades or higher, and I even studied and went to cram school to keep it that way, although I probably didn't need to. I played down my genius whenever I could though, determined to live without the hassle of that status, but my refusal to lose or do badly at all caught me out, and my parents soon noticed, although they've never quite worked out the full extent of this genius.
They soon encouraged me to do things outside of study and school, and I was enrolled in piano lessons. I appreciated the challenge it posed to my motor skills to play, and the challenge to my intelligence to learn to read the notes and process the information through the keys. They say that a healthy mind needs a healthy body to house it, and at some point I joined the tennis club; I was determined to live up to that, to be perfect in every way. Not only was I propelled by an endless drive to do my best and more, but also by an incessant need to finish what I started. If being perfect was what I wanted to be, I wasn't going to finish the task at half-way. I never did anything my halves, that just wasn't possible.
Things soon soured. I had this keen curiosity that couldn't be quenched; a need to learn that couldn't be sated. The biggest problem – and this has always made my intelligence a problem – is that nothing was ever enough. I always finished ahead of others. Any challenge thrown my way was too easy to overcome. If anything did become a worthy challenge, if it did manage to catch my attention for longer than anything else, the inevitability was that it would lose it in due time. I'd moved onto many hobbies and projects over the years, and conquered each one with relative ease, taking in all I could from each topic if just to keep me entertained a little while longer. My parents, still believing I was their perfect son, thought it was amazing that I was so capable that way, that I was so efficient – they never realised what the negative repercussions were.
Nothing was ever enough, and the result was boredom. I was always bored. No challenge lasted as long as I needed it to. Nothing I tried had enough to offer me, had it in them to relieve it. By the age of 12 years old, I was a grade 8 pianist, unable to go any further, and so I stopped playing. When I became the Junior High Champion in tennis, first seed for my age group in my country, I quit, finishing my tennis days just in time to enter Daikoku Private Academy with the excuse that I needed the time to study – to my parents, I was a conscientious, college-bound student who wanted to do as well in High School as I had everywhere else. By then, my many other hobbies had already petered out – even a sudden interest in full ambidexterity didn't last long, for – as I soon discovered – I was already naturally so: Predominantly using my right hand was easier for writing Japanese, and right-handed people were more socially accepted, as well as being blessed with a longer life span compared to their sinister brethren – most products, after all, were produced for right-handed people.
Upon entering High School then, or perhaps before, I had become depressed, somewhat. It was haunting to think that life had already lost meaning, that it had nothing of value left to throw at me before I'd even reached 16 years old, but it was true. Having a police detective for a father, I was always acutely aware of the high crime rate, of anything and everything that could and did happen to innocent people. I'd always had a high sense of Justice, had always been resentful for its failings. I soon lost faith in humanity, knowing that while I was the perfect son, everyone else was either too disposed to making others suffer, or too weak to prevent themselves from falling victim to them. While many a child could view this all as something that just didn't happen to them, that just wasn't relevant, it affected me in particular. Dr Cameron can ask 'why' all she wants, but she already knows that I'll tell the truth, that it's because I alone was smart and capable enough to do something about it and more, yet I couldn't do a thing. It added to my depression at life's failings, and made it all worse.
By some miracle, I still don't know how, Kira appeared in April 2004, at the beginning of my first year at Daikoku Private Academy. Kira, this god of a punisher who could do something, who was doing something, who'd even proved it by making a criminal fall dead at my feet on the way home from High School. I don't know how, whether it was how his ideas matched so well with my own, or the fact that he was doing what I'd always felt I needed to do myself, but I knew was the answer to the world's problems and – to some extent – my own.
What was more, my father, the Super Intendant Police Chief of the NPA was heading the task force charged with the case against Kira. I already knew how to access his work computer from home and cover my cyber trail, a skill borne long ago from a desire to meddle and solve cases when I knew the NPA couldn't (as practice, of course, as I intended to follow my father into the 'family business', as it were). In this way I could keep on top of their investigation, learn of it what the media was unwilling to share. To begin with, it seemed as though life had given me something to look forward to, given me some hope in the form of Kira. He was even curing my boredom, giving me something to read in the newspaper that wasn't media trash, giving the world and I a debate to while away the small hours over: Kira is a murderer, but he's killing the very people we're forced to put up with because they're avoiding punishment. He's punishing criminals, but is he right? Just attempting to provide definitive answers for these questions was difficult even for me, at times. This Kira was a murderer, of course, one of the people I despised, but a miracle-worker for killing yet more of his criminal kind, for saving me in the process. For that, I could only have gratitude for him. I always will.
There was a problem still, one that couldn't be overlooked: This Kira wasn't the brightest mass of celestial gas in the vacuum, and the super detective L was getting involved. There were times even at the beginning when I thought he'd get himself caught. I had to stand in, if he was to continue with his goal.
Dr Morning wonders if I became Kira in his stead here, and I have to tell him no, I didn't. I merely used my connections to meddle from the task force's end. I falsified evidence, mixed up their information, even deleted whole section of their databases and left them no way of retrieving them. I was taunting L from the inside. For months, they couldn't find or catch Kira thanks to what the media would come to dub as 'The Kira Computer Virus' or 'The Case File Vandal', and for the first time I was feeling some sliver of happiness, some remnants of the pride I used to hold because I'd aided Kira, because I'd become part of his noble goal.
But it wasn't enough. By February 2005, just days before my 16th birthday, Kira was apprehended. He'd panicked towards the end, slipped up farther than I could help. L had caught him. While his identity was never revealed in the media of in the case files in my father's computer (they were still wary of the Case File Vandal), Interpol and the leaders of America and Japan were still fighting over what to do with him while that coward L simply stood back and let them get on with it. Some of them thought the trial should be held in Japan, Kira's own country, while others demanded he be sent for trial in America, where he'd punished the most criminals. Some of them wanted Kira dead for his crimes against humanity, and other were fine with letting him free to do what he was always doing – these people didn't even think he should get a trial. The fact that they couldn't agree, that Kira's execution has remained unarranged to this day was yet more proof of the need we have for Kira, of the future we'll be facing without him.
Kira was hopelessly stupid, unable to keep himself from capture even with my help, but he was what the world needed most; there was no doubt about that. I could have been more bitter that Kira had been chosen to lead rather that someone more capable like myself, but there was no point in crying over it.
Dr Cameron has asked if I thought of Kira as a god, or as a saviour, or something equally supernatural, but no, I don't. To do so, I would be conceding that he was a level above me, and I know – and had always known, though his faults – that he was simply a man who not only had a plan, but a way to implement it. While that way must indeed have been supernatural, it didn't make him any less human – to suggest otherwise would effectively make truth the phrase 'clothes maketh man', would suggest that it is the doctor's coat and not his knowledge that makes him the doctor he is.
A few days after Kira's capture, and everything began really began to fall into place, really started to shape itself into the present-day situation. Even with the ending of the Kira case, Father was still at work most of the time trying to tie up loose ends, and the news of that coward L's payment and withdrawal had hit the newspapers, and with no foresight I found myself suffering from a headache. With the boredom beginning to set in again, and the plague of ennui-induced headaches I once suffered before Kira still in my memory, I didn't think anything of it. No one else was concerned either – to them, I was still and always the omniscient, omnipotent being in human form who simply didn't (and couldn't) fall prey to such ills.
But I had, and before the end of the day, I was cooped up in the dark of my room with a migraine and the beginnings of a fever. For the first time in my life, I was absent from school, not working at all. This in itself was strange, that I wasn't in the classroom with my classmates overachieving as usual, that I hadn't even noticed it until I actually returned.
Barely days after the start of the illness, and I was back on my feet again, as well as I'd ever been. I felt refreshed, better than I'd felt in a long time. While the change that had occurred in me wasn't apparent at that time, it was the moment I left the house to return to school. I remember that well: Our next-door neighbour Mr Yamada passed me by, and the moment he turned to say hello, something the equivalent of an electric shock passed through my brain from my eyes, along with flashes of images and information the likes of which I'd never seen before. Within milliseconds, I knew the company he worked for, the women in his life, the various incidents of shoplifting he'd committed as a child, even his first name, the knowledge of which I'd never formally earned.
It was his life flashing before my eyes with a force so strong, he himself actually flinched and walked away from me as fast as he could, while I could do naught but hold onto the front gate to keep from falling or something of the like. That phenomenon never struck me as strongly before that once – or even after – and it was only the beginning of something strange. From the front gate to school and back again, the same thing happened over and over again. While the shock never came in as more than a slight buzz after Mr Yamada, they weren't any less real for it. The things I could see now were incredible: I could learn so much about a person from these flashes alone. Within seconds I knew things about them that everyone knew, only a few people knew, and that they obviously didn't want anyone else to know.
Above all, I knew what deeds they'd committed. Good things, bad things, things that are neither here nor there. They could vary from the most awful crimes of human possibility to the most petty of wrong-doing and, very occasionally, no wrong-doing at all. For children that I passed, ones that didn't even own a leather school ransel yet, I saw nothing. I saw them as I'd always seen them – as the children they were, with no flashes of their short lives to distort it. What was more, the same thing occurred when I came home from school. There were no flashes from even one of my family, none at all.
It was no wonder, then, that I heard nothing of the side-effects until I found them out for myself, having not heard a word from them about it. It was only when I saw one of my peers through a reflection and saw the flashes again, that I caught sight of my eyes, watching with both shock and a sort of detached fascination as I saw them not as their natural brown, but as a deep and glowing red, like beams.
You could imagine my surprise, but I'd rather you imagined my epiphany. Kira had been gone for more than a week, and so far no one had dared to commit a crime in case he was released soon. However, that lapse wouldn't last long, and criminals would be doing wrong once more. If this is to be taken as true, then Kira needs someone to step in his place, someone to continue where he left off, someone to judge them.
Someone to judge them. That was my job, I'd realised. I was the one to step in his place. I was the one chosen to continue where he left off. I was the one to judge them. I was, in short, the new Kira – now the only Kira.
Then, Ryuk came. A fearsome creature, like nothing I'd ever seen before or since, he came in through my bedroom window like he belonged there. I admit, I was scared of him at first, but only until I realised what his visit might possibly mean for me. He even as good as admitted it: Kira's gone for a while, he'd said, so you'll do instead. I asked why he was here, why I'd been chosen to be Kira. It doesn't matter why, and you don't have to if you don't want. If you think you know a better guy, then just tell him you saw a Shinigami in your bedroom and it belongs to him now.
I didn't want to tell anyone else anything, even if I did think there was someone better for the job. Kira's killing method was revealed to me alone as the supernatural power it was by Ryuk. I was Kira now; this was my calling, no one else's. I readily accepted, unconcerned with the true intentions of the creature, accepting the supernatural forces of death that were once Kira's and were now mine. All he said he would do was watch, and that was all he was there to do. He didn't really care if I thought of him as one thing or the other, if I feared him or if I didn't – I was Kira now, and those were the orders. For all he cared, he could just be a figment of my imagination; it didn't make any difference to him. For all I cared, I was Kira, and this lazy unhelpful sneak was just baggage I could ignore as long as I kept apples on the side for him. Indeed, Ryuk loved apples, and that was all he cared about.
Yet, short of judging them, I could do nothing. That creature had missed out a detail somewhere because I couldn't kill no more than I could before. I'd done plenty of research on killing in the week after Ryuk came, but these were all methods I could use unarmed, without the use of conventional weapons, and with the improvisation of the unassumingly concealable sort. For example, while I knew ways of killing with, say, a pen, I would always have to be at the scene to do the deed. I couldn't give a person a heart attack without the assistance of a cocktail of drugs, and I'd always have to be there to administer them. I couldn't kill from a distance; I knew no way in which I could have Death swoop down upon a sinner like an in visible force. Somehow Kira could do all these things, and Ryuk – obviously his right-hand Shinigami – wasn't about to tell me how. He had chosen me, and yet he wasn't going to tell me how the Hell I was going to go ahead with the plan. The revolution that Kira had planned to give was impossible now, that much was easy to see.
All the while that Ryuk chastised me for being boring, threatened to kill me for not moving whenever he trapped on the glass, I was sinking once more into depression. Being Kira wasn't the relief I thought it would be, and until I could kill as the original had, I wasn't even him, not really. I was a failing copycat, worse than him, a double-failure to the strain. I felt cold and dead, inside a shell impenetrable to the outside. I suppose I'd always felt like that before Kira came, but now it was stronger, more amplified somehow.
That became unbearable, for all the same reasons. I had the power of a Shinigami on my side, and yet I was so helpless. All the killing methods I knew, I knew only in theory, and all of them were useless if I were to be Kira. I had the power but I couldn't use it. I was, essentially, back on square one. I couldn't be Kira. I never could and I never would, so what was the point in continuing like that? When a life has dimmed to the point of all but physical death, to the point that only the heart needs to stop for formality, why let it go on? Life had given me nothing. It had made me Kira, given me a will, but that's all it gave – it had, after all, forgotten to give me the way.
Sometime later, after many months, I did what I thought I'd never do. On the way home, I bought myself a knife, short and sharp with a black no-frills handle. In effect, it was a kitchen utensil, but it had never been used before, and had a high carbon steel blade – one that wouldn't rust, stain, chip, or need much sharpening. It had two names on one side in tiny English letters; names that I was assured indicated high quality. There was a cover for the blade, a cover that could be replaced after every use, if I was insistent on making it last. I wasn't that sure about 'making it last', but hygiene and infection could be an issue – an issue that I really didn't want to address any time soon.
That same day, I used the knife, marking the occasion with a drag down the top of my left arm and all but a towel at my feet. The pain was awful that first time, was awful every time after it, and the blood was immediate, an image held as strongly in my mind as the blood to the towel. It was shallow though, never as deep as any that succeeded it. As it flowed down my arm and my hand, Ryuk watching with rapt attention and fascination and a grin, the realisation came into my mind as fully-formed as any thought: I was still human. I wasn't Kira because I was still human, and Kira isn't human.
After that, a new obsession held my attention, and for the next two months, I continued cutting myself in that manner, not limiting myself to my arm. In my mind, all I knew was that it was Kira's skin I moulding for my own, and until it was finished, until it was fully healed and etched with deep scars like Kira's crown, it couldn't be seen by anyone else. I stopped going to PE while I healed with the help of a forged note addressed from my parents, which the teachers accepted, taking it as proof of my fallibility, proof I wasn't superhuman. Thankfully, the whole school was still wearing the long-sleeved winter uniform, and so an excuse wasn't needed there. For every question, I had an answer ready; for every suspicion, a believable excuse. I had to finish what I'd started, and nothing was going to stop me.
In the time that I'd spent carving my skin, I'd changed venues to the bathroom, sitting over the side of the bathtub so that it could catch the blood and wash away the evidence, so I had a limitless supply of water at hand to wash it off my skin and bandages to wrap it up with, so Ryuk could hover and watch with no disturbance but my own. In the two months I carried out this ritual, I'd gone from a shallow scrape on my arm to deep carving on every limb, linked up on my torso and chest, even on my back, intersected with a long slit at each shoulder blade. As ambidextrous as I was, I could have every scar as deep and as smooth as the other, save for the first, regardless of the hand I used. For that, I was fortunate. Yet, there were times when I had had close shaves, when I was almost discovered by one of my family (for despite the status I was coming to hold, they were still my family, as human as they are). Sayu had almost walked in on me on more than one occasion, only for me to switch on the shower just to convince her not to open the door. So worried that I was going to be discovered, I actually lost my cool and panicked on those occasions, and it was down to sheer will that I didn't let her open the door and see me holding the knife to myself, so this 'god-skin' I'd already made for myself. There were times when I wanted her to discover me, wanted her to barge in and take the knife off me and tell our father, would have given anything for her to intervene if just to stop me from harming myself over and over again. There were times, even, when I wished I hadn't been so careful from the start and let myself contract an infection just so that I had an excuse to stop this and come clean.
These times, these feelings, however strong they were, were rare. Very rare, and by the end of just over two months, by December, the scars were healed fresh and deep, like grooves that my fingertips could notch within. My skin felt tight by the end, and sometimes I notice it now, but I did get used to it, did put up with it. I'd done it to myself, and it was as much as I deserved. The miracle was that I didn't get an infection at all, and at that time I was sure the Shinigami were with me, though I now know that they were merely watching, not guiding or aiding in any sense, just like Ryuk.
Not long after the completion of my god-skin, news broke of a violent gang-related incident that hit in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo that left many gangsters and innocent civilians dead, including a teenager who was shot in the abdomen and died within minutes of a perforated stomach and chemical burns in the cavity caused by natural -0.5pH acid. Though the public network never said anything of the sort, the world knew that it was Kira's fault, that it was directly caused by his absence. They even said as much on the Internet, noting how crime had risen in both rate and violence for a while, how it had only been a matter of time before something of this scale affected innocents. Their comments were angry and they had every right to be, they knew, as everyone knew, that Kira had failed them, that I had failed them. Rightfully they felt cheated.
I knew I didn't deserve the title after that. I wore the skin, but I still didn't have the power to be Kira and serve the innocents of humanity. As intelligent as I was, it didn't matter, because I'd failed them. I didn't deserve that name; I wouldn't deserve any of Kira power, even if I had it. Humanity would be better off with a new Kira, without me as him, without me alive. That thought consumed me, and soon I wasn't eating, had lost my will to study and simply do. I still went to school, but I did nothing in lessons without the simple motivation to do anything. I put my entire life on total hold without realising it, my world frozen on the basis of one idea:
I had to die. I don't know when the idea struck me as right, but it did, and it was as simple as that. The epiphany had come armed with a new energy that I thought had long since deserted me since my failure, and the method soon came to me then.
Taking a knife from the kitchen late at night, one longer than I ever used on myself, I went into the bathroom, knelt in the bathtub once again, and added one more etch across the left side of my chest, in a segment that covered the location of my heart. With an entry marked out to avoid accidents or a miss-aim, I pressed the tip to the middle of the etch, held the handle with both hands, held my breath and…
I didn't do it. A knock at the door interrupted me, I stopped out of panic, and by the time Sayu left me in peace, the energy had left me and I dropped the knife. I couldn't do it any longer; something about her presence had stopped me, made me realise what I was really doing. Before I knew it, my hands were shaking too hard for me to make a clean job of anything, and I began to cry. Still bleeding from the etch; I was too weak to do anything but lie in the tub and cry out of shock and frustration. I hadn't killed myself, and so I'd failed humanity; but had I done so, I would've been wasting my potential, failing myself. I'd survived this suicidal experience, though, and for a while my emotions under the mask were everywhere, and I could be disposed to any mood. That was something none of the others could know about, or would be suspected.
That worry came to naught, when I caught on to the importance of that event – for some reason, my suicide had been prevented, and that reason would have been important: I was the Kira the world needed, the only Kira, and I was needed alive if I was to do any good. Death was the coward's way out, and taking it would only do more harm than good. The was no good in me crying over it, none at all; because that was my purpose, and one failure would be nothing in comparison to the thousands I could save if I persevered in my goal. With this new determination, this new mission, the depression left me once more, and I threw myself into my studies for school and in Death: If I had to kill criminals with my bare hands, so be it, and so I did yet more research into killing methods. I began an exercise regime that concentrated on giving me strength and stamina rather than simple fitness. That would give me the strength and ability I'd need to carry out all of my methods. As long as I knew them in theory, and generally possessed the necessary strength, then quick thinking and a cool head would be all I'd need to kill cleanly and swiftly as any given situation would allow.
By the end of it, I was built for Death.
By the time I passed into the 12th grade in April, in my last year at high school, I still hadn't put my skills to use. As desperate as I was to kill criminals and reclaim the Kira name, there was nothing I could do until I could do it without getting caught. I could administer both legal and illegal chemicals to induce heart attacks, but until I could get a steady stream of them on hand, track down the criminals one by one… there was, in short, too much effort to put in, and not enough time to pull it off. The risks were too high; Kira was never at the scenes of his killings, that was always established as his god-like signature power and if I was spotted at all near any of the criminals before they die, whether I played it out as a coincidence or not, I would be suspected.
As powerful as I'd made myself, I still didn't possess the true power of Kira. I was still as hopeless as I was when I tried to kill myself in January, as powerless as I was before Ryuk arrived, in reality. I was sinking into the oubliette once more, though this was more sudden than the first time, and I was deep in depression before I could acknowledge it properly.
It was then again on a morning in the middle of April (I never remembered the day) as I walked to school that the suicidal urge came back. As I walked through Shinjuku as I did to get to school each morning, memories of the gang failure flashed through my mind. I remembered why I tried to kill myself three months before, the need to dispose of this waste, the readiness to do it. By the time I reached the Shinjuku Crossing, the green light was beginning to flash, yet the road was momentarily clear. Without a second thought I pushed past the crowd of pedestrians and onto the road, walking freely to just before the dead centre, the arms at my sides held out palms facing forward, in an almost divine gesture as I turned to my left, staring with a half-smile at a large cargo truck heading right for me. I could almost see the driver, and I imagined that he'd be the last person to see Kira before he broke free of the mortal coil, that he was the holder of the front-row ticket to this end of the world, a thought that gave me some comfort then.
The truck sped forward, true to its route, and I could move from my spot in its tracks, not even if I wanted to. As it came closer, headlights blaring in the early morning, almost blinding me, I couldn't think, only hold my breath and wait for death to come.
Yet it didn't. Something tugged at my collar and pulled me back, just before it could collide with me. Rather, it carried on like I'd never been there to begin with, and I hit the pavement, the breath and energy knocked out of me. Looking around, the whole world had their eyes on me. I was practically sitting in someone's lap on the ground, a woman's lap, and by the look on her face, she was the one who'd saved me from the truck.
"What do you think you were doing?" the woman had asked, nearly screaming at me. Obviously, she was in more shock than I was, as though she was the one to shake hands with Death. "You could get in so much trouble! Were you trying to get yourself killed?" She was a dark-haired woman in her late-twenties, a woman I read to be named Naomi Misora, a colleague of my father's, the only woman who'd aided in the capture of the first Kira.
I didn't say anything to her, and she must have taken the answer as 'yes', for she helped me up in silence and made sure I was alright. My silence had said it all for her. When the green light turned red, I turned to her and said, "Stay out of my way, Miss Misora, and don't do me any more favours. Just because you worked with my father doesn't mean you can repay your debt to him through me." I crossed the road with the other pedestrians before she could respond, but I still got a glimpse of her facial reaction. It was genuinely understandable shock. We had never met in person before that day, and I shouldn't have even known she existed, let alone her name. She and I both knew that while I might have been mentioned to her, she would've never been mentioned to me by my father, for she was far too involved with the Kira Case, and he wasn't supposed to talk about it with the family.
If she had any reason to suspect that I had any kind of extra-sensory perception at all, that would have been it.
Arriving at school alive, the excess energy had come back to me, and the darkness was gone, as though Misora's pulling back had subsequently pulled me out of the oubliette. Fully charged up like that, I had no dark thoughts to ground me, just complete agitation. The first lesson had been an exam in Civics, and by then I was restless, actually fidgeting. One of my classmates had chosen that time to start coughing, and each spasm had been like a punch to my tolerance of her. The Invigilator, a large man who loved making students uncomfortable with his presence, was to sit in on the exam. By the time I'd been handed the practice Civics paper, I'd already seen his sins, his memories, working me up further.
He'd been a father, once, and would have been now had he not beaten his young son to an early and unnecessary death aged three threes old. The flashback were disgusting, and I was filled with a hatred for him that I'd never felt for anyone else before then. I felt sick to be in the same room as this sadistic monster. The artificial light seemed to blink in agreement.
The exam started and I worked through it as quickly as I could, writing each essay in a record time. I'd forgotten to pace myself and hold myself back, to slow myself down to the speed of an average student so as not to stand out. The excess energy was so boundless, I had to tap my pencil against to desk to try and work out the energy and tension, and I couldn't breathe calmly for the life of me as that girl coughed over and over again, agitating me more.
I'd finished earlier than I'd ever planned to, the artificial lighting working itself to an early shutdown, just so that I could be excused and leave early, so I could never see the back of that beast's shadow. I'd gotten out of my seat with my left hand practically twitching for the energy, and I'd gotten just close enough to him to hand him my paper. I would have turned and left had he not advanced on me: He touched my arm, and his memories grew stronger, strong enough that I flinched at the touch, at the striking blow against a toddler's head.
'Kill him, this is your chance!'
'That boy needs to know, needs that justice to rest!'
'Go on, you have all the skill you need. Kill that piece of scum!'
He'd said something, I remember he had, but I didn't commit it to memory. He was scum, not worthy of the storage, and my arm quirked in a spasm of undue hyperactivity.
I don't fully remember what happened next. All I do remember taking him by the collar, using a fraction of my strength and new-found energy to hold him fast against the blackboard and drink in his fear like a vintage wine. I read more of his memories, hearing the pleas he'd given to the police, the excuses and lies he'd weaved for them and his grieving wife. I knew my eyes were glowing red again; the look on his face was enough to confirm it, and it just added to his fear, added to my elation.
I was truly Kira for the first time, and I loved to act in my God-given role.
I'd threatened him verbally then, telling him he was going to die swiftly, but not before I'd tortured him, not before I'd dealt to him what he'd dealt to his own son. I can't tell you the exact words, not from the first attack, but I knew that I'd said them. I'd taken hold of him one handed by the throat and squeezed, clenching tighter for every exhalation as I described to him his place in the world – none. He didn't deserve one.
He was going to die by my hand, that was the greatest part. That was the greatest thrill. I could even feel the life leave him as he grabbed for my wrist, a sensation I could only identify later.
The rest is a blur, a gap in my memory, more or less. I remember the lights overhead flickering at a dizzying speed; the mania overwhelmed me before I overwhelmed the man. I remember hitting the floor as he did; the sound of screaming; being surrounded. I know the energy left me, but not before knocking its way through every muscle and sinew in my body and letting me know about it.
After that, I suppose, there were my parents crying, fussing over me like I was in mortal peril. Naomi Misora was there, talking to my father, talking to me. Only much later did I realise that she'd phoned him that morning to tell him about the incident with the truck, that second attempt; that my father was going to ask me about it when I got home from school; was going to take me aside and talk to me in the privacy of my bedroom, would probably say the very things that would inspire me to show him the Sheffield steel knife in my drawer and all the scars all over my body, inspire me to tell him of my involvement with Kira, the depression, my boredom; inspire me to beg him for the help I obviously needed but had too much pride to ask for before.
Had I not had the run-in with the Invigilator and ended up in hospital, had the manic episode, I would've lost my need to lie and keep secrets from his and the rest of my family. I would've either confessed at the slightest opportunity, or else made more and more excuses until I'd dug myself into a hole that I'd then break down and confess in. I'd probably cry, too, and genuinely.
That, I think, is the saddest truth of it.
The rest of this story, what comes next, you're already living a variation of, Dr Cameron, Dr Morning. It was at that hospital that I learned and perfected my escapology skills with the strait jacket, a skill that came easier as I gradually lost weight in hospital and burned energy on the obliteration of criminals among the patients and doctors alike, using all my methods with the ease I knew I'd have in the theory. I'd even inspired heart attacks through the stress, fear and chemicals I could easily administer.
I really started becoming Kira then, as I am now. I do believe now, Dr Cameron, that we've come full-circle. You may go ahead and call me crazy, if you like, dangerous, even, because I know you'd be telling some portion of the truth, even if it hurts, even if it means confessing that, as you saved me from dying from the third attempt, the truth was that I was begging for death and wanted you dead just for taking that death away from me. It was the truth that I'd felt as cheated as the world did after the Gang Failure for being pulled from death, that I'd been as ready to die as I ever was. If the truth is all I could ever tell, then it would also be the truth that I want no more of this; that I'd rather have someone else's life, that I don't want to hurt my family like this, that they deserve much better from me even for the way I've reacted to the stress of being their son and brother. I was never perfect enough for them, and now I never will be.
The truth hurts, but that's all I'm telling. I'm just glad there are people strong enough and good enough to hear it out as you have.
Standing up from the bucket slowly and shivering, Dr Cameron wiped at her eyes and gave a sniffle, making to shake herself and get professional once again. Throughout that reading, she remembered, her voice had nearly broken countless times, she'd had to pause to swallow the misery welling up inside her, threatening to have her weeping. How she'd ever managed to dictate the whole sorry story to the bug she didn't know, but she'd done it all the same.
She took a deep breath to steel herself, affixing her poker face before letting herself out of the Janitor's closet. Ignoring the stares from doctors and patients alike, she walked off in the direction of the Nurse's station to pick up the photos that Dora didn't deliver and take them to House along with the confessional. Passing untroubled, she was soon at the glass door of House's office.
Opening up and entering in, she found House standing up at the near end of the table, his cane hanging on the end as he fiddled with projector equipment that faced the bare wall while Foreman sat in a nearby chair. She put the photos and confessional on the side and Foreman stood up to pick them up and look through them, cursing the name of Dora under his breath. Cameron turned to House.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
He ignored her for the moment, to plug a wire into the machine's socket, but then he turned to face her. "I thought that our dangerous little manic depressive was such a good artist, we should put his artwork on the fridge."
"So you've seen Ryuk, then." It wasn't a question, but it wasn't exactly a statement, either.
"Yeah, and that kid's seriously got some talent!" The words themselves were innocent enough, but the tone still sounded wrong, somehow, making it sound like mockery. "It would look really good in a professional gallery, you know. It'd probably look a little something like…" he flicked the switch of the machine, and the picture exploded onto the wall in a huge beam of light. "… This." The picture hung there on the wall, burning its image onto the back of her retinas. As her mind tried to comprehend it, she took a step back, a physical flinch from the bulging eyes, the dark spiking hair, the great rows of sharp teeth set behind black lips…
It looked familiar somehow, but she couldn't bear to think how, not at that moment.
"That…" she began, gulping in fear, "that's Ryuk? The 'Shinigami'?"
"That's Ryuk alright," said Foreman, a grim look on his face. "His name's on the bottom, along with Light's signature." He pointed to the names at the bottom of the sheet, the name of the beast in English script, and Light's signature in Japanese. Unlike the Shinigami's name, which was written in his neat, almost italicised script, it was uniquely his in a way, the middle character of his name half the size of the others. She imagined there was significant about it, but she was no graptomancer, and House would call her an idiot for suggesting it, as would Ryuzaki.
The door clicked open, and Cameron turned to look at it slowly, with caution, her breath caught in her throat.
It was just Chase. He came in, practically balking at the sight of the Ryuk sketch. "Whoa!" he yelled, half in shock, half in fear. He closed the door behind him and half-turned to face away from the wall. "That's Ryuk? How can Light stand to draw that thing – I can't stand looking at it for more than a second!"
House sighed, rolling his eyes, "Stone the flaming crows, it may have more teeth than the entire Osmond family, but that doesn't make it any less a hallucination. Unlike them pesky dingoes, it's just a figment of some kid's imagination!"
"Yeah," Chase agreed, "but what kind of imagination would think this thing up?" he gestured in the direction of the projection, pointedly not looking at it.
"The imagination of a teenager who knows more ways to kill a person unarmed than House himself?" retorted Cameron.
"What?" chase and Foreman asked in unison, unsure of what to believe.
Cameron looked pointedly at the white mac laptop sitting on House's desk (obviously not House's own – he was a PC user), and at the others. "Was no one listening to the feedback from my bug?"
"Nah," House was bent over the projector again, adjusting the picture on the window. "I set the mac as mute as the kid, but it's recording everything. I was bored waiting for Dora to deliver those pictures, and Ryuzaki wasn't around to annoy, so I switched it to mute to concentrate on my friend, Yorick the yoyo." He took out his expensive red toy and walked it along the ground to prove his point.
Cameron sighed and went over to the mac, switching off the record function before saving the sound file. Rewinding it, she started it playing during the wipe-board conversation, with Morning, Foreman and her voices on the speaker, her voice going lower to represent Light's utterances.
"I think he's more concerned about 'solving' me than helping me get well." There was Cameron's voice, ringing around the room, using the tone and intonation she imagined he'd use, were he speaking. "He's well-respected, but only because people are scared to be near him."
"Boy, does he have my number!" House stage-whispered with the excitement of a pre-teen whose celebrity crush had said her name.
"A man who rules with fear rather than understanding shouldn't be allowed such a high position of power in a hospital."
"Hello, pot," whispered Chase, giving a smile of amusement, "the kettle called, he wants you to get your own colour."
Cameron gave a tiny smile as she tried to work out how she hadn't picked up on that piece of irony before, and she passed House the confessional to read. She was sure he'd work out something from it, from their patient's own account, his very own words. Holding the papers in front of him, he began reading before reaching for a pencil off his desk and proceeding to circle and underline the text. Occasionally, his eyes widened, and by the time recording had moved onto the confessional reading in the Janitor's closet, he'd finished. He wasn't crying, as Cameron had nearly been, but he had the look of an enlightened man, whose new truth was especially unpleasant.
House sighed. "Yeah, he's definitely having mixed episodes during these suicide attempts, no doubt about it. I mean, the whole 'god-skin thing just blew my mind, but the mood symptoms are all there. The only thing I don't understand is why he didn't think to do what any suicidal teen would do and string up a noose?"
Cameron gave him a hard look. "What do we think, diagnosis-wise?" Chase asked. "Because, I don't know if putting our wipe-board in the corner was a good idea, but we're currently deciding between Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder-"
"Borderline's out." House said, flipping through the pages again. "There's no lability, and I really doubt this 'sociopath' could experience temperamental sensitivity to emotive stimuli."
"Yes," agreed Cameron, "he's not so much victimised as he is the victimiser, more or less."
"But that leaves us with Bipolar and Schizoaffective, and we'd have to work out if he's having hallucinations without mood symptoms at any given time just to-"
"Well, how about a new diagnosis for you, huh?" House asked, irritation staining his voice, "How does that work for you? Like, I don't know, say…" he paused to fake thoughtfulness, before blurting out the answer, "Schizoid Personality Disorder?"
Foreman looked aghast, like he'd been dragged in circles, "But that doesn't make any sense! To have that, he'd have to have been showing symptoms for a long time, to, I don't know, have been having social problems, have problems communicating, enough that his parents would have had an idea of what was going on when they found out he strangled the proctor!"
House handed his neurologist the confessional. "Check it out; the proof is all on the paper." Foreman took it, and began speed-reading through, a speed that went down to a crawl as he began reading it properly.
Chase scowled. Cameron knew he hated being out of the loop like that, especially when he only had a recording to half-listen to when he could have the whole story to read instead. "What evidence is there that he's got an internal fantasy world?" he asked.
House scowled back, almost mocking, "Hello? 'I am Kira, hear me roar! My best friend is a voyeuristic clown!' Is that fantasy enough for you?" Yes, definitely mocking.
"Well, I don't think so," Foreman cut in, "If this confessional is right, then he's been like this since he can remember, not since two years ago, when your idea of the fantasy world started. His parents had no idea, and they know him better than we do, if at all."
"Didn't everyone think he was the perfect guy?" Chase asked, "And wouldn't the perfect guy have charisma? Charm? Since when did a schizoid kid have any of those things?"
"Since this one got any with murder!" House shot back.
That was it now, she had to cut in. "Let me say," Cameron began, "that I think House is right." She kept her cool perfectly, and yet they still heard her, Chase's jaw dropping and House looking smug in the wake of an ego-stroke. When no one argued with her, she continued. "According to Ralph Klein, there are a few SPD individuals who will present with an engaging and interactive personality, who he referred to as 'Secret Schizoids'. Neglectful parenting is often considered a factor of SPD anyways, and while he hasn't been neglected in an obvious way, you could say he's had some form of emotional neglect. While there may not be a 'fantasy world', that doesn't seem necessary in this case, at least not right now." House smiled, almost completely satisfied with her answer. It was as though he was thinking along a certain train and, as reliable as German departure and arrival times, she had caught it.
"Not right now?" asked Foreman, "What do you mean, not right now?"
"Well," she answered, "SPD is all well and good in saying that he was always mentally ill, but he's hallucinating, he's got mood symptoms, and that Kira fantasy isn't internal, not anymore. We could say that it's developed, gotten worse while no one was looking."
"What between now and when he first strangled the proctor?" asked Chase.
She sighed, shaking her head at the stupidity of his question, "No, between now and any point during his childhood, perhaps two years ago with Kira. I believe his parents only took any interest in him when he did what they expected of him – or at least, that what he feels. If he really is a 'Secret Schizoid', then no one would have been looking at all because no one would be thinking to look. That's how he's been getting away with this self-harm, the stabbing, and yes, murder. In fact, had his father's work colleague not been there when he walked in front of the truck, he would've gotten away with that, and probably would've caused others to die as well. What's more, he's probably an accomplished liar. Actually, if he isn't I'd be very surprised, and I would usually be looking for the best in him."
House picked up his cane and limped over to his chair, sat back in it and rubbed his hands with a disturbing glee. "Ahhh, the force is strong in this one!"
"But who's to say he wasn't lying in this 'confessional'? Foreman asked. "If he's as practiced a liar as you say he is, then there must have been some lying in it."
"The evidence is literally on his skin," answered Cameron, "and he had no reason to lie then, nothing to benefit from it but going back to square one again and never getting cured. If you're so concerned he lied, you could try asking his parents for their side of the story. If it matches up, we can be pretty sure he's telling the truth, right?"
Standing back up, House hobbled over to the wipe-board, pulling it out of the corner to write in a new column, Schizoid Personality Disorder – Secret Schizoid. Suddenly, he turned and glared at them, as a thought came to his head. "Speaking of which," he began slowly, "if you're all here, then who is watching our Master of Death?"
Chase put his hand up. "I went to see Light earlier, when Cameron had gone to record the confessional on the bug. Dr Morning was with him at the time, and his parents had just come back, so while we were there, I got permission for us to run a couple of tests on him."
Cameron's eyes widened. It was her turn not to believe. "Tests? What did you need to perform tests for?"
"Well," Chase replied, "his lunch had just come, and Dr Morning had told us how he'd taken one bit of his shepherd's pie and refused to have anymore, saying he 'wouldn't risk it'. Dr Morning didn't think much to it because, you know, Light is Japanese, and he didn't think that the Japanese diet had lamb and mashed potatoes very often, if at all."
"But you remember the bleach, right?" Cameron asked.
"Yeah, and I thought, 'that stuff's got to have had an effect', so we went and did a few tests on him, and it turns out he's more or less lost his sense of taste."
"So, all in all, "House mused, "a pretty pointless test. He could've told us that when he got his voice back."
"Yeah, but it's good we know why he's so paranoid about shepherd's pie! He probably thinks there's poison in it, since he can't taste the difference."
"But still pretty pointless."
"Who's with him now?" Cameron asked. She felt a major bickering war coming on.
Chase turned to face her, "His parents and sister, but Dr Morning doesn't have any more lives to ruin today without his lucky scalpel, so he volunteered to stick around and make sure he doesn't play 'ninja assassin'. His words, not mine."
Cameron nodded. "It's good to know we've got someone else to help us with this. I was beginning to think we were outnumbered at one of him to five of us."
"Yes, but now we've only got a sixth of him to deal with than a whole fifth." Chase shook his head. No matter how they thoughts about it, the maths was bad, and it was largely bad for them.
"No, I think we're still down by 1:5 – where's Ryuzaki?" asked Cameron. Somehow, through all of the bickering, she'd only just taken on House's 'Ryuzaki's not here to annoy' comment and counted the number of people in the room. It was a slow discovery, but an important one, nonetheless.
They all looked over to House, who shrugged his shoulders. "Why should I know? As far as I'm concerned, good riddance."
"But he said it himself, right? He has a duty to help on this case." Said Foreman, "All he's done is stay here for the first day, stick around to watch me admit it wasn't Schizophrenia, and then take off."
"Might he be working on a different case? Like the one about the missing Vicodine?" asked Chase. "He is an 'Unprivate Detective', after all."
"I don't think so." Cameron answered. "This one is bad enough, and we need all the help we can get – he knows as well as we do that Light can be dangerous."
"What's more," Foreman added, looking at the documents on the table, "I think he took the blue folder with him. Either that or Dora took it the last time she came in here."
House shook his head. "No, the last time Dora came in here, it was to deliver a case folder to me two weeks late. By the time I got it, Mr Toors Denote went into a vegetative state induced by bad doctoring, and had his apples stolen and eaten two months later by our Ninja Assassin and his biggest fan." He looked pointedly at Cameron, and she blushed.
"Maybe he took it to do his own research?" Chase asked quickly, noticing her blush.
"But into what?" Foreman asked, "We have the kid right here, and as far as we know he's not seen him once."
"Maybe," began Cameron, recovering from her embarrassment, "he's looking at something that we don't have all the information for, that he could probably access better than us." When Case and Foreman looked at each other and then back to her, her comment doing nothing for clarification, she continued. "Maybe he's looking into what happened at the other hospitals, how he behaved when he was in someone else's care?"
House turned to look at her, and smiled. "Great Fry's ghost, I think she's got it!"
"You mean," said Foreman, "while Light's told us what's happened from the beginning to when he was first hospitalised, and we know what's happened since the seventh of this month when he came here to today, Ryuzaki's gone off to find out what happened in between?"
"Exactly." evaluated Cameron, and House gave a few claps.
"Two correct answers in a row," sighed House, "if you get any better, I may have to start letting you use my markers!"
"Good," smiled Cameron, "because I already gave Light one of them to borrow."
A/N: There, a wonderfully long chapter of AoSI: R. I really hoped you enjoyed it, especially as it was one of those 'one-off' chapters that take a different format (and I do apologise for the excessive italics here). However, you can be rest-assured that, from now on, I'm going to be giving a lot more references to previous chapters: As the referring back to chapter 1 seems to have gone well, I'll definitely refer back to previous chapters, which you may either like or hate.
This chapter also includes references to other things, in a 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' kind of way. You should write in your review if you spot any of them, and in the next chapter I may clarify them – heck, the last author note may just be a clarifier of all the references I put in the entire fic, just to keep you happy. There will be prizes for the one who can guess the most in both this chapter and the ones before it. The Gang Failure, I'll have to say in advance, is a reference that pre-dates its source material – a fic that is yet to come! You have to read 'Fame Less than Infamy' before you read it, when it comes, so you're warned.
I just want to say to those who read this and think, 'Damn, are the House-and-crew dialogues ever dodgy?' I just want to say to you that I like how dodgy the dialogue and the humour are in this, especially the humour. It's like the last remnant of the original version, and I like how it goes. If you do or don't, just tell me, okay? I'm interested in what you have to say!
Well, I have some wonderful fun planned for chapter 11, and if you have anything to say about it, please just R&R!
Please stay tuned for chapter 11, and thank you for reading thus far!